I am a physician. You are my elected representative. This is happening in the community we share. Here is an idea to address the issue.
It's a simple formula for grassroots advocacy, but there's a catch: Physicians whose practices or patients are affected by opioid use disorder face an epidemic -- one further complicated by regulation, stigma and other treatment barriers.
To regain ground against a public health emergency that was responsible for some 116 overdose deaths a day in 2016,(www.hhs.gov) the AAFP's Government Relations Division has fielded an Opioid Epidemic Survey(www.surveygizmo.com) for Academy members that is designed to illuminate opioid-related practice issues and compile family physicians' firsthand views on priorities for addressing the problem.
Survey results will help the AAFP's advocacy communications, and participation should take less than 10 minutes.
The numbers are staggering. Data collected from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicate(www.drugabuse.gov) that some 92 million Americans had used prescription opioids the previous year, with 11.5 million misusing the drugs.
According to the same report, 63.4 percent of the people who misused opioids said they had done so to relieve physical pain.
The numbers, though, represent people, and the family physicians who have worked to treat them can convey valuable evidence that's more than simply anecdotal.
AAFP Guide to Speaking With Legislators
To assist members conducting local meetings with elected officials during Congress' August recess, the AAFP has posted a new advocacy storytelling resource. You can download it by opening the "2018 FFM Story Elements" item in the Family Medicine Action Network library. Research shows that storytelling provides a highly effective way to educate policymakers about how legislation affects their constituents -- regardless of the topic.
The survey is already generating insightful feedback. Family physicians practicing in cities such as Chicago and Philadelphia, as well as in less urban settings, have provided short but bracing accounts of how they perceive opioids, recovery and regulation.
"We need more treatment facilities in rural Maine, where I practice," one respondent writes. "We also need to encourage employers to hire people who have had a history of opioid addiction. People in recovery often do very well."
The deadline to complete the survey is Aug. 31.
Related AAFP News Coverage
2018 Family Medicine Advocacy Summit
FPs Speak to Legislators About Fixing Health Care System